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Richard Attenborough honoured in 'brilliant' and 'perfect' memorial

March 17, 2015
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Stars from the film industry and beyond have gathered to honour the late Richard Attenborough in a private thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey, London on Tuesday. The actor, who was also known as Lord Attenborough, passed away at the age of 90 last summer.

Among those paying tribute were Richard's younger brother and TV wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Michael Caine and Twiggy.

The memorial, which lasted just under an hour, was led by the Dean of Westminster, the very reverend Dr John Hall.

david attenborough © Photo: Getty Images

David Attenborough, 88, lost his older brother Richard last year

"We come to celebrate the life and achievement of Richard Attenborough, a truly great man," said the reverend. "Certainly a star of stage and screen, but also a pioneer filmmaker, an exemplary leader of his profession, a man of deep commitment, of great generosity of spirit, and of personal warmth."

"We shall also pray that his story might continue to inspire and inform others to follow his example, that our world might become a little brighter and better," he added. 

judi dench © Photo: Getty Images

Dame Judi Dench called Richard Attenborough's memorial "absolutely perfect" 

Lord Attenborough, who starred in classics such as Gandhi, Jurassic Park and The Great Escape, had a flourishing film career that spanned six decades. The 1982 film Ghandi, which Richard directed and produced, gained him particular recognition, with the late star winning Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director.

During the service, Sir Ben Kingsley, who played the Oscar-winning character of Mohandas Gandhi, took to the lectern to read some of Ghandi's writings. Tom Hiddleston and Penelope Wilton also gave biblical readings, while hymns included Jerusalem.

michael caine © Photo: Getty Images

Sir Michael Caine added that the Westminster Abbey service was "so beautiful"

Sir David played a special part in his brother's service, which celebrated Lord Attenborough's achievements and influence. The nature broadcaster, 88, read from Lord Attenborough's 1994 maiden speech in the House of Lords.

"The arts are not a prerequisite of the privileged few; nor are they the playground of the intelligentsia," said Sir David. "The arts are for everyone – and failure to include everyone diminishes us all.'"

He added: "My brother lived by his words."

lord attenborough © Photo: Getty Images

Richard Attenborough passed away aged 90 last August

After the ceremony Dame Judi commented that it was "absolutely perfect" while Dame Penelope Keith said, "I think he'd have loved it."

"It was brilliant. So beautiful," added Sir Michael.

Lord Attenborough passed away in August just days before his 91st birthday. The accomplished star was awarded the CBE in 1967, knighted in 1976, and made a life peer in 1993.

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